After a strong opening day at Jerez, Michael van der Mark was more like the Flying Dutchman than ever before!
It was a bright start to a return to Jerez for Michael van der Mark, who comes into the Acerbis Spanish Round full of confidence after a string of good results at Assen and Imola. The Dutchman, who took a podium for Honda at Jerez in his rookie season, will be seeking to deliver the goods at the venue where he clinched his WorldSSP crown back in 2014.
Starting with FP1, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team rider threw down the gauntlet in the closing stages to end the session on top, before being pipped on the overall times by Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), finishing the day just 0.226s behind the rampant rookie. But can van der Mark challenge at the front of the field in the races?
“It’s a really positive day,” began the Dutchman, reviewing his first feelings back at Jerez. “Already this morning, after the first few laps, I felt really comfortable with the bike and we confirmed all of the things we tried in Misano which we felt was better. In the afternoon, the track was 20 degrees hotter and we had to see how it’d go, and I was quite happy.
“I did quite a long stint on the same tyres and I am only struggling a bit with stopping the bike. That is the only negative so far and if we can improve this, then I will get a lot more confidence going into the corner and that is the only thing that is missing now.”
The 26-year-old was inside the top four in all of the sectors in the individual sector times, something that only Alvaro Bautista and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) were able to do. Van der Mark showed strong pace towards the end of FP1, with faster laps than Bautista whilst just being a fraction slower towards the end of FP2 in comparison to his rival. Nonetheless, the two-time race winner will look to be in the fight for race wins on Saturday and Sunday.
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